As Tall As Lions are back with You Can’t Take It With You, the highly anticipated follow up to 2006’s self-titled full-length. As Tall As Lions already has a solid fanbase in place and has been supported by writers at Alternative Press, Stereogum, Death & Taxes and Spin among many others. The NY-based band has shared the stage with Superdrag, Circa Survive and Sparta where crowds arrived early on each evening due to the band's huge buzz. They will be playing a special hometown headlining show on June 30 at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom.
The third full-length album by New York’s As Tall as Lions, You Can't Take It With You, is a thoughtful, textured tour de force of soundscapes, vocal harmonies, melodies and insightful lyrics about the modern world. The songs’ subject matter faces head-on the politics of God, love, war, and the human condition while examining everyday struggles such as anxiety, isolation, and money." With You Can’t Take It With You, the band; vocalist-guitarist Dan Nigro, guitarist Saen Fitzgerald, bassist Julio Tavarez and drummer Cliff Sarcona, has made its smartest and most impressive album to date.
This might be in part to it being the most difficult to make. Before ATAL had made 2006’s As Tall As Lions, the group, who had formed while in high school, had finally gelled as a unit and were ready to make a mature, well polished album. Having accomplished that goal, the musicians now pushed themselves harder and vowed this time to recreate the feel of their live performance for You Can’t Take It With You. In the nearly two years it took them to write and record the disc, they changed producers three times, traveled cross country to record it (with no studio time booked) and not surprisingly nearly imploded. “Listening to it now, and not being in the thick of it, I can respect all the trials and tribulations,” Fitzgerald says. “I was often frustrated about the length of the process, but we couldn’t have made an album like this any other way.”
The group began thinking about the follow-up to the sophomore release as far back as fall 2007. Around that time, the phrase “You can’t take it with you” popped into Fitzgerald’s head. Envisioning how it related to modern society and culture—especially in regard to how people were becoming detached from one another because of technology—he thought it was particularly relevant. It was only later he learned of the 1938 movie of the same name and how the phrase had since become ubiquitous. “I think I saw it in an advertisement,” he says. “It concerned me at first, and then I laughed. I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s kind of what this is about anyway.’ That phrase in an advertisement actually makes it perfect.” The title’s concept would soon be a major theme in much of the album’s lyrics.
The band decided to head out to California in January to begin tracking with Mark Howard (Dylan, U2, Daniel Lanois). While they got some gold out of those sessions (“Sleepyhead” and “We’s Been Waitin”), ultimately, the pairing proved dysfunctional and ended abruptly. They found themselves desperately needing to find someone new on short notice in Los Angeles. “We almost broke up numerous times,” Fitzgerald says. “The band was very unstable for a while, because we took such an ass-backwards approach to it.” Eventually, after consulting with several producers, they met Noah Shain. After recording one track with him, they were impressed with his passion for the songs and they never left his studio.
By the time the group finished the album, they felt a greater sense of accomplishment than on any previous recording. It was the most arduous journey As Tall as Lions has made together, but they all agree, it was worth it. “There was a black cloud over this album the entire time,” Fitzgerald says. “But looking back on it now that the work is done, I can say, ‘You know what? We went through all that shit, and I'm so glad we did because it gave the album grit and tension and character. It shaped it into something special.’ We're all extremely proud of it."
With the release of You Can’t Take It With You this summer and tour plans with Dredg and Rx Bandits, 2009 is sure to be busy and rewarding year for As Tall As Lions.
You Can’t Take It With You Track listing
2. Sixes & Sevens
3. You Can't Take It With You
4. Go Easy
6. In Case of Rapture
7. We's Been Waitin'
8. Is This Tomorrow?
10. The Narrows
11. Lost My Mind